Students blog

Explore the latest trends, tips, and experiences in college life in this blog written by fellow students.

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PreK-12Higher EducationProfessional

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    The future is SMART

    Neville Scott

    Isn’t necessity the mother of all inventions? Several philosophical arguments attribute the success of physical endeavors in the field of sciences to necessity, for example Newton’s Laws of Motion. The same can be said of the establishment of complex social ideologies such as democracy and the American Constitution. During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the world saw necessity result in a massive global movement, the Industrial Revolution. Today, history is just about to repeat itself. The same necessity is instigating a slow but sure revolution in the field of smart technology.

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    Recovery on campus: Finding support through peers

    Jennifer Leonard

    Harmful substance use continues to be problematic among college campuses in the United States. Binge drinking, depression, and stimulant use are on the rise, resulting in plummeting retention rates and low classroom attendance. Alcohol and marijuana have been pinpointed as the two most frequently used substances by college students, which in turn have been linked with inadequate test performance, drunk driving, hangovers, and suicide attempts. 

    One intervention that has been effective in combating substance use and co-occurring disorders within a college setting is peer support, found in programs like recovery communities and other support groups on campus. Peer intervention is beneficial when membership is deep-rooted in mutual experiences and respect. 

    Giving Back

    As a student in long term recovery from harmful substance use, I came to University of Indianapolis (UIndy) with an immense gratitude for the opportunity to better myself. Thinking back on my past, I was not always so driven. Childhood trauma, lack of sound coping skills, and weak boundaries led me down a dangerous path. My decisions were less than fruitful, and that reflected outwardly in my life. Thankfully, I have been given a second chance. The combination of the memories of my past and who I have become today led me to my life in recovery. 

    Giving back has been a vital component of my sustained sobriety. I am driven to carry the message of recovery to those who are still struggling. This idea helped me, along with another UIndy student who is also in recovery, create the Healing Hounds, a peer support group for students struggling with mental health and/or addiction. While we both love the University of Indianapolis, prior to the creation of Healing Hounds there were no services or groups on campus for people in recovery. Initially, we thought we would start a 12-step meeting at UIndy. However, it did not take us long to realize this may not appeal to students. After researching different options, we learned about the Collegiate Recovery Community model that exists on other larger campuses. It offers a safe space for students to talk about recovery. There are no rules. Members do not have to commit to anything. We thought that something similar would be helpful to the UIndy campus.

    Continuing to Help Others

    Our initial goal was to provide hope by sharing our stories with others like us.  Being new to the UIndy campus was a bit of a barrier at first. We both reached out to students in our classes and recruited several students for our first meeting. Surprisingly, we filled our entire Healing Hounds board during our first day. Participation grew with each meeting, so much so that we needed to seek a larger room. 

    The mission of Healing Hounds is to provide a peer support network to students with mental health issues and/or addictions to drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, and/or sex by providing fellowship and support for students with mental health issues and/or addiction in a non-clinical setting. Healing Hounds promotes holistic wellness and encourages students with mental health issues and/or addiction to live life to the fullest, despite their struggles, in a way only peers, allies, and survivors can.

    If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or addictions, please reach out to a similar organization or hotline. Recovery is difficult, but it can be made much easier with people by your side to encourage you. If your campus does not have an active support group, I want to encourage you to start your own! You never know how many people you can impact through it.


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    Setting your own path

    Stephanie Stubbs

    Oftentimes, we fail to seize the day because we are held back by worry. Worrying about what others think of us, needless worry about our appearance or social circles, others’ seeming success, our endless failures and worrying about not making it to the top. We internally create this mental maze of worry that leads to nowhere. I was always taught to think and act as an independent being – to not concern myself with social acceptance or living up to public expectations. I know that these teachings, among many others, are what enabled me to keep pushing against expectations of what others wanted me to become, helping me to find myself outside of the maze created by others. In spite of naysayers, discouragers, negativity and outright opposition, I overcame. Not only that, but I did it while maintaining my sanity and refusing to be defined by the system’s expectations and even its jaded definition of failure. 

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    Community college students: Tips on deciding where to transfer

    Albert Hernandez

    Congratulations! You got accepted to transfer to some of your favorite schools. Your hard work and dedication in high school and community college has separated you from all the other applicants and now all these remarkable universities want to welcome you into their campuses. However, now you face a new issue: how are you supposed to know where to go? You can’t attend two schools in different corners of the country, so you must choose between them. Before we dig in into this topic, let me give some quick advice: Do not select your school only for its name. Now that we are clear in what not to do, here are some elements that might help you make an informed decision. 


    Cost of education has skyrocketed during the last decades drowning many graduates into student loans for years. If you are eligible for financial aid, make sure to take a deep look into your financial package. Analyze how much money each school is offering you in grants, loans, and work study in order to compare them to their cost of attendance. Remember that if you are planning on leaving your current town, you will need to account not only for tuition and fees, but also for food, housing, and transportation. When you are doing this analysis, do not assume that your in-state school is your best option because it seems cheaper. For many of my friends and I, out-of-state institutions offered us a remarkably better package of grants than what our in-state school did.


    Let’s say that you are fortunate enough that your family can afford any institution you want to transfer to or more than one school is offering you a full ride. If you are in this selective group, you might want to consider weather as part of your decision. Let’s say that you are from a northern state and you are considering moving to South Florida. Are you sure you want to live your next couple of years in a never-ending summer? Or what if it is the other way around? If you are originally from Florida and all you have experienced is summer, are you willing to transfer to a state like Michigan or Wisconsin where it can easily snow for five months? You need to be happy where you are at and the weather can play a big part in that. 


    Weather and money aren’t breaking the tie? Base your decision on what will make you happier. I know it can be hard to know what school will actually make you feel more welcomed and happier, but you can start by asking yourself the following questions. If you transfer to either of your choices, will you go alone or is there a friend that might go with you? Transferring with someone you know that can support you and help you in this new transition can make a huge difference. How is the student life at both schools? Make sure to do the appropriate research and see the universities’ traditions. What school resonates more with your own values? Can you visit either school and walk around town? If it is possible, try visiting both schools and pay close attention to their culture. Are they friendly and welcoming? Or do they look exhausted and mean? Being able to see these things can be a good representation of if you think you’ll be happy there and actually like going to school.

    Once again congratulations, not many students have the privilege of saying that they are having trouble picking between two or more amazing institutions that accepted them. I hope these points help you make an appropriate decision. If none of these factors broke the tie, then refer to each school’s ranking. However, just remember that for any employer, their expectations and prestige will be the same for an engineering graduate from Georgia Tech, University of Texas, or University of Michigan; or a politician graduated from Stanford, Harvard, or Georgetown. If you are on the top, one or two positions on the rankings will not matter.


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    Evolving as a ChemE

    Meghan Nguyen

    With time comes change. It is no secret that engineering has a challenging curriculum, especially Chemical Engineering (ChemE). For community college transfers, the transition can be blindsiding compared to expectations, which is exactly what happened for me. Like a rollercoaster, I was in line to begin a new ride of my life, along with other “top-notch” students. But little did I know, the journey ahead of me was going to be different than expected.

    Claiming My New Reality

    Stepping up to a four-year university was an exciting challenge for me. In the beginning, I looked forward to socializing with others who shared my STEMsation passion and occupying my downtime with extracurriculars. Once I realized what I would face, I was overwhelmed with fear and panic. My first round of tests discouraged me into second-guessing my abilities; even altering my ways of learning and studying made no change in my grades. It was like the wind kept pushing me back and I kept enduring the turbulence without time to process or recover what just happened. I went downhill fast. 

    Harnessing My Energy

    A quarter into my first semester, I hit rock-bottom. I noticed I was not my typical self and forgot what my education meant to me. My education seemingly turned into an obligation rather than enjoyment. It took some time before I knew what to do. I realized I had to begin with my mental health. There came a period where I had to let go of my unrealistic expectations and focus on myself—my goals, thoughts, actions, and reflection. Patience and time were key components to my process. For example, the most effective part of taking action was verbally encouraging myself that I need to keep moving forward, repeatedly saying “You got this Meg!” and “You can do it!” After facing numerous loops, something in me had to also change. My ultimate hope was to glide upwards and escalate from there. 

    Elevating My Dedication to My Major

    Despite the twists and turns, I was determined to show others that I was the embodiment of a slingshot effect, pulling myself backwards then shooting towards my target. With my dedication to my goals, I knew I was not going to fall easily. Struggling with one of my most challenging, weed-out courses led me to seek the help of a tutor. Utilizing my professors’ office hours also contributed to my desire to improve my education. Not only did I reach out for more help, but also found myself networking and studying with my peers in the program, especially, Chemical Engineering transfers. Along the ride, I eventually reunited with my grit and felt more like myself than before, ready and looking forward to class instead of dreading it. 

    Maintaining Consistency 

    To reach your goals, the most important elements are staying in the game and continuing to be engaged and committed. While I may have seemed on track, nothing lasts forever unless you create regularity. The only way I could secure myself from being stuck in a stand-still was recognizing that I was always going to be like a sine graph oscillating up and down periodically hitting highs and lows. So, moments when people were not around, it was up to me to utilize other forms of materials for my classes like videos, online academic sources, and textbooks. After refocusing myself to my studies and continuously taking time for my mental and physical health, by the end of the semester, I was filled with the sensation of thrill, excitement, and refreshment. 

    Educating Myself

    My professors always told me that it was up to me to decide my future—nobody was going to do it for me. The biggest lesson from my first semester at a university was taking initiative to get what I wanted from my education. I learned to be a positive coach for myself and that reaching out for help is normal; mentors and friends are constantly jumping on-board to support; and everything will work itself out.

    If you are struggling with school and feeling out of place, know that there is a way out. As long as you are willing to work hard and work on yourself, you can make it through and achieve anything you want.  I realized my potential to strive for bigger and better and not keep my hopes down because my rollercoaster is not coming to an end anytime soon. I choose to continue moving forward in my adventure, for success starts with me.


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    My journey as an international student

    Tartela Tabassum

    I came to the United States from a small country in South Asia called Bangladesh. Coming from a different country, my story of getting a higher education can be classified as unlike many students in college today. 

    After high school, I decided to take some time off to help with my family’s financial condition. When a year went by, I felt like it was time for me to continue my education. But sickness and lack of preparation prevented me from passing any of the required entrance exams. It was too expensive to take them a second time. Instead I got married in order to remove some of the burdens of my family.

    I never gave up on my dream.  Even with a husband, I still wanted to continue my education. Being from a Muslim background, I had to face a lot of barriers of negative reactions from my family, friends, and even my husband in the beginning. My story continued when I came to the United States at the age of 18 with hopes of going to college. My husband thought it would be impossible and that I wouldn’t fit in, but I showed that I was willing to work. I began learning English by going to the library, doing volunteer work, and just talking to people. When my husband saw this, he started to believe in me and to support me.

    Two and a half years after high school I finally got into the Community College of Allegheny County as an international student. Even though I should have been rejoicing, I felt there was a sigma about community college. I was told that no one wanted to go there and it was people’s last option, but for me it was everything. I ignored the negativity. I am the first person in my family to go to college and particularly the first girl in anything STEM related. Sometimes a lack of self-confidence and language barriers can get me down, but wanting to make my family proud is what helps get me through it all.

    When I first began taking classes I had no friends and I always felt alone; I was desperate to make a connection with people. Also, as an international student my tuition was higher and so money was an issue. I worked hard to earn good grades even though I worried my education might end because of my low financial condition. I even thought about dropping out, but then I got an invitation from Phi Theta Kappa. I took the first steps and joined PTK so that I could talk to people and make friends. I became involved in PTK activities, which helped me make a connection with people and also helped relieve some of my financial hardships by helping me apply for scholarships. 

    Even though it seemed like there was little chance for me to become a success in college, my positive attitude and patience have made it possible. I’ve learned that by cooperating and communicating with others more, I improve my ability to become both a compassionate leader and learner, and also to make connections with people. When I’ve thought of giving up, I learned to take a step back and look for a way move forward with more energy. I am proving everyone wrong who has doubted me.


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    College is about getting out of your comfort zone

    Anya Swapp

    Moving to college couldn’t come quick enough as I longed to live my childhood dream of being in the Mecca of Fashion: New York City. I dreamed of studying Fashion Business Management at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). Doing so could have seemed scary especially coming from Jamaica, but I loved traveling and experiencing other cultures with my family. I saw leaving Jamaica again to further my education in New York City as another great adventure. However, after arriving in New York and attending my orientation, the shock of living by myself in a new country kicked in. I realized more than ever that it was time to come out of my personal comfort zone in order to overcome fears, discover myself, and accomplish personal goals.

    I had to manage taking care of myself more independently and sharing my living space with people I didn’t know. Then, I realized I had to adjust to more diverse standards especially when it came to gender inclusivity and accepting cultural differences as this deepened my understanding of my identity. It was also a time for me to speak up more for myself as I had no one who fully understood my story, like my family did, to speak on my behalf or to back me up. As a shy person, especially when it came to public speaking, I had to  develop how to vocalize my thoughts clearly. I wanted to overcome all these anxious moments outside of my comfort zone so that I could feel a sense of comfort again.  

    I remembered what somebody once told me before I moved to college, “If you go through college in a personally safe and controlled zone and leave with the same mindset and perspective of the world, you have not learned anything, even if you excelled academically.” This person’s words fueled my self-motivation to act courageous to stand for something and internalize personal responsibility and accountability, and also to be a visionary. From this I was driven to have a significant college experience; I was ready to accept change and push myself to do things I would be nervous to do normally, recognize and tackle my fears, and welcome curiosity for growth to take its course. Here are the tools that have helped me thus far in college to succeed outside of my comfort zone.

    Be Unconventional

    The major skill that FIT has taught me is to be unconventional, meaning I had to approach my academics without boundaries and program my mind to be unstoppable. Especially as an international student, I understood that mediocrity would not allow me to accomplish my goals of earning a scholarship and getting hired for an internship or job as I navigated my studies. I had to also keep an open mind in order to be inspired to complete assignments. Additionally, I pushed myself to believe that I could and would get through the requirements of each course successfully. I appreciated my background differences and others’ as an advantage for a more unique story. 

    Get Involved 

    Once you keep yourself busy, you will have less time to worry about homesickness. I recommend that you get active on your college campus and further involve yourself in the outside community. After feeling settled during my freshman year I joined a club and a sports team on campus, as well as did voluntary work in the community. This allowed me to start the process of establishing new connections, enabled me to be more well-rounded, competitive, and also opened doors for me to gain more experiences. 

    Deal with Challenges 

    Try your best to not procrastinate or shy away from uncomfortable situations that pose no harm. Push yourself to overcome obstacles, use your college support services for help and just do your best and leave the rest to faith. I recognized that I tend to shy away from public speaking but I knew I had  to overcome my shyness and strengthen this important skill for presentations. I made a point to participate more in class and put myself forth to publicly speak when the opportunity arose in order to gain practice and confidence. I also approached challenges as a fun game that I wanted to win, for example, to feel comfortable in winning challenges of handling interviews and developing confidence in knowing myself. When campus job or internship interview opportunities arose, I would consider the interviews a chance to practice and gain experience. It is better to look at challenges as an opportunity to become stronger. 

    My mother told me that your college years can be an exciting time of your life and I agree; you learn more about yourself throughout the journey, are exposed to more truths of the world, and others’  perspectives to understand it. Changes in your life can be scary because you are leaving your comfort zone, like attending college, but it is an adventure that is worth the experience because the good news is that it opens you up to newness and growth!  


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    Achieving your college degree: How to conquer your elephant 101

    Lindsey Green

    Imagine thundering footsteps as you race to the horizon of the African savanna and you come upon what you believe will be your next challenge, an elephant. Massive ivory tusks, a trunk so heavy that it outweighs you, feet the size of tires. You look around and there is no one else there but you. Now imagine that elephant being your college degree and it’s your organic chemistry course staring you down. The beast is massive and you are not sure how to conquer it all or how you are going to graduate. As a freshman in college I faced the same task. Knowing my ultimate goal is to pursue a medical degree, I had to meet the challenge of learning to take on a colossal elephant. 

    There is a saying, ‘there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time’, meaning huge goals can be accomplished by taking on a little at a time. When learning to conquer my elephant, I spent most nights studying and countless hours at coffee shops solving math problems. I pride myself in working hard and being ambitious. It is what fuels me to build a better future for myself. Because of this I often fear the aspect of failure; I believed that one failure would prevent me from achieving my goals. This was not the way to think or conquer the task before me. Instead, I am learning that I have to congratulate myself for the things I have accomplished and appreciate the times I have failed. What I am doing with my failures is seeing what I can learn from them. If going that way or using that particular tactic did not work, I try another way. Ultimately, there is no wrong way to defeat your elephant as long as you take it in strides. 

    Being driven is a blessing and a curse. I know I can put my head down and work hard, but if I am not careful I can become too focused on the end goal, causing me to lose all direction of where I am. It makes me think, ‘how can I take on this elephant at all’? I’ve realized now that this is not how to approach the beast. I’ve had to learn to break things down. A term paper is no longer a semester-long project, but smaller assignments I make for myself each week. It is not an entire degree I have to finish, but semester by semester. The tasks I needed to accomplish can even change from week to week. I’ve learned to step back and see my goal in smaller increments instead of a 13,000 pound challenge. 

    While changing my way of thinking may seem small, it completely changed the way I approach challenges. I can still become overwhelmed amid the savanna, but I have learned a skill set to keep me on track. The elephant can be defeated, but it takes determination to accomplish. I believe anyone willing is capable. As long as you take it step-by-step the elephant will get smaller. Where you start is entirely up to you, but the most important part of any plan is to start somewhere. No task is ever impossible to complete, but it is impossible to do so all at once.


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    Surviving college with a chronic illness

    Jacob Lambie

    College is an exciting time in your life no matter where you come from.  It’s a new environment that promises unique experiences, friends, and amazing opportunities. However, for those with a chronic illness, it also comes with a slight sense of unease. You know that you may not have as much energy as some else. Maybe you are going to miss classes for medical reasons several times, or may even have to go into classes with accommodations ready that no one else knows about. Living with a chronic illness sometimes makes it hard to just survive the day, but don’t let that discourage you. I promise that you’ll have the experience you want if you enter college prepared and aware of your health by following these four tips:

    Talk To Your Professors Early

    Now this is usually no fun to talk about when meeting a new person, but it’s a priority for starting college. Emails can always be sent explaining why you have measures in place, but nothing beats face-to-face interaction. I’ve found many times that professors are more accommodating when you come to discuss with them in person your conditions and difficulties rather than sending a faceless email. Starting the conversation early will help you in the long run when something may happen later on in the semester.

    Don’t Continuously Push Through

    Everyone with a chronic illness in college comes to a time when symptoms start to present and you have to face that critical decision. Do you try and push through and ignore the symptoms or take time to recover and return to normal before continuing? I can attest that pushing through can work. Maybe you have a test, project, or a paper due the following day. Being able to push through symptoms can be valuable for these situations, but just know you won’t be able to do this forever. It’s a useful skill in small bursts, but is not a good long term option because you need to get the rest your body deserves. 

    Listen To Your Body

    This is probably the most important lesson you can learn. Medical conditions have a way of inconveniently interrupting your study plans and other activities demanded by a busy college schedule. You may think you can keep going, your friend may think so, your professor may think so, but your body will either tell you yes or no. Push too far with anything and you will end up paying the price by missing classes or even worse your grades could suffer. You have to be able to recognize what you’re feeling and be able to pull away from all of your activities if you need to in order to stay on track. Remember, a slight delay with a day of resting is much better than missing a week and trying to play catch up the rest of the semester.

    Consider Your Courses

    Of course you most likely want to be a full-time student if possible, but class loads can certainly vary. Taking four classes in sciences with labs and mathematics is much different and more taxing than having a mix of art, language, and history. Try to balance out the more time-consuming, harder classes with classes with a lighter workload so you can survive your schedule. Understand this when making your schedule, so you aren’t forced to drop something in the middle of your semester because you are too overwhelmed. 

    A college student with a chronic illness may have more to think about than the typical student, but don’t get discouraged! Explore, find friends, activities you enjoy, and live the life you want. Just remember to take care of yourself and listen to your body while maintaining balance. You’re going to have a great year!